Panama, June 8, 2001. The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) submitted its proposed fiscal year 2002 budget to Panama’s legislative budget committee yesterday. The new budget contemplates 14,868 transits in fiscal year 2002, of which 13,143 will be oceangoing vessels, a 1.1 percent increase over the current fiscal year’s projection.
Expected cargo tonnage is 237.2 million net tons, a 1.7 percent increase over the current budget. Additionally, Panamax transits are expected to increase by 5.4 percent over the 2001 projection to total 4,664.
The budget also features a $285 million investment plan for fiscal years 2002 to 2004. Approximately 90 percent of the proposed investment will be channeled into modernization, repair and replacement programs, as follows: $41.8 million for the Gatun Lake and Culebra Cut deepening project; $159.9 million for new locomotives; $34.6 million for miter gate system replacement; $33.9 million for new tugboats; and $2.7 million on the Gaillard Cut widening.
Other important projects include the tow track replacement program to correct and prevent track deterioration caused by the physical stress associated with increasingly larger vessels, and the locks valve mechanism replacement. The original valves will be converted to hydraulic systems and the entire operating system will be computerized using fiber optic cable.
The fiscal year 2002 budget contemplates direct contributions to the National Treasury of Panama in the amount of $226.8 million, a $28.6 million increase over the fiscal year 2001 budget. This contribution reflects expected increases in cargo tonnage, and oceangoing transits, which result in greater revenue from tolls and tugboat, linehandler and reserve services. Additional revenue will be generated from the sale of electricity, drinking water and other minor services.
Recently approved by Panama’s Cabinet Council, the new budget must undergo three legislative debates to obtain approval and become effective on October 1, 2001.